we like lists: list # 10: six things going on with me

Remember we like lists?? It's been a long time!

This list will answer the burning question: What's up? What's happening in your life? Doing anything interesting? Enjoying doing something mundane? Reading a good book? Working in your garden? Suffering from the heat? Tell us! Elaborate as much or little as you'd like. The only rule this time is a six-item limit. (Fewer than six is fine.)

Here are six things going on in my life.

St. Michael Hospital sign cardinal entrance2

1. I'm done with "Private Eyes"!! Whoo-hoo! It was really crazy towards the end. Through a series of strangely predictable mishaps, I was left to write the final report on the surveillance portion of the project almost completely on my own. It was nerve-wracking but a great challenge. (There was also a portion about video analytics, which I was not involved with.)

When I was hired, I said I was very clear that I was available for no more than 25 hours per week. During the final two weeks of this project, I worked almost 100 hours on Private Eyes in addition to my weekend job. Work, watch baseball, sleep. Work, watch baseball, sleep. Repeat.

The job was a great experience. I learned a lot, made some excellent connections with great people, and we delivered some important information to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. And now I. Am. Done.

2. With part of the fat paycheque I'm expecting for this work, we are finally buying a digital SLR camera. We've wanted one for a very long time, and last year we decided to stop spending so much money on each other's birthdays and buy a camera instead. (And then Allan bought me cool stuff anyway! Hey, I can't help it if he can't keep an agreement.)

Up to now, we've had a low-end point-and-shoot digital, a very good, very old film camera (Olympus OM10), and a great wide angle/zoom lens (Vivitar Series 1) we bought many years ago. For important or special photography, we still use film. Now we can finally change that. We want to find an adapter in order to use our old lens with a digital body.

I've been reading up on specs and options. The process may take a while, as we may shop in person at B & H when we're in New York in November. We also bought a nicer compact digital - a Canon Powershot, pretty standard stuff, but a nice improvement for us, plus it has video.

3. Tala has been enduring her exercise restriction with equanimity, and no signs of pain or lameness have returned. If this continues, next week we'll begin to step up her exercise, very gradually, over the course of two months. Fingers and paws are crossed. We've also borrowed a second exercise-pen, and put the two together to give her a lot more room outside.

4. For several months, I've been having physiotherapy on my injured ankle. Astute wmtc readers may remember (because you all have nothing else to do but remember the mundane details of my life) that two years ago, while in Santa Fe for a nephew's wedding, I sprained my ankle. And my ankle was already weakened by a very bad sprain years earlier. When we came home from that trip, I had a little physio, then stopped. My ankle never fully healed; it's been wobbly and unstable and always (seemingly permanently) swollen. One of my goals this summer was to do something about it.

One reason I gave up on physio was the annoying clinic I had been using. Waiting at least 30 minutes - and often more than an hour! - for every appointment, then listening to the therapist complain about her own life for the entire session was not very motivating! I ditched them and found a great place, and have been working diligently. It's kind of amazing to feel my ankle becoming more stable.

I am working hard to re-acquire proprioception, which I have learned is what you lose with this type of injury. All this time, when I fell off a curb or tripped over nothing, I thought it was from fibromyalgia. Nope! It's a shortage of proprioception. Now proprio and I are getting reacquainted.

5. Look! We're growing these! It's fun! I really get the whole gardening thing now. I'm not jumping in any deeper, but I'm enjoying this little dip.

6. Speaking of jumping, the big question of the summer is... will I jump out of an airplane? Or otherwise become airborne?

Many years ago, I had a co-worker friend who checked off a long list of activities to celebrate her 50th birthday, including one round of skydiving. The idea really appealed to me and I decided I would do the same thing. Now that I'm 50... and there's a skydiving nightmare story that I can't get out of my head. I wish I had never heard it, but I can't seem to un-hear it. Our friends C and J - of Jungle Cat World and Wolf Centre fame - are learning how to hang glide. They say it's relatively easy, it's much less expensive, and it might meet the same challenge I'm looking for. I'm thinking early September. But if I don't do it then, I still might, some other time.

Your turn!


johngoldfine said...

1. Turning Little Girl into Big Girl. We spent a year slowly working with a horse afraid to go out by herself, and last week, when my wife was away, Little Girl at last transformed into Big Girl and she and I took her on eight solo rides without problem. It felt like a huge validation of our training and training philosophy and patience. I was so fucking pleased!

2. Potatoes and peas don't really overlap, but I had one last passel of peas along with my first new potatoes and parsley cutting. A moment to remember next February. The corn tasseled the two days following that meal, which means that the garden is pretty much out of my hands now and in Nature's. We need rain.

3. I continue my guerilla war via email and union grievance against a loathsome administrator, who will not be pleased to find me on the college labor/management committee this fall. For short-sightedness, smugness, inability to listen, ideological blinkers, condescension, etc, I have never met her equal, and I've met some doozies. If she's reading this, hi! CU soon!

4. My weight doesn't change much. The number stays constant, but my shape is...in motion--a combination of aging, gravity, and whoopie pies-- and it ain't pretty. Sometimes I start to tally the accelerating avalanche of my physical problems but somewhere between my toes and my scalp, I lose track.... Huge decline in physical energy too, memorialized in big piles of bucked and split firewood sitting around outside waiting to be hauled and stacked in the cellar. Winter's coming, literally and figuratively.

5. What started as an informal mentoring relationship with an adjunct colleague has also become a real friendship in the past few years. Every day she and I add a few more bricks to the edifice that is our mutual understanding and sympathy--for me, that's rare--ongoing and very important.

6. Off to Iceland in a few days. Moving from the life where I don't speak to anyone but my wife and the grocery clerk for weeks at a time to a place where I will be with German and Swedish-speaking strangers for every moment of a week, with no chance of privacy. The horses make it worth the mental strain--by god, they better!

laura k said...

John, thanks for breaking the ice on the thread!

Note to John and anyone else who posts today: I can't use the comment function while at work, so I must hold all my questions and expressions of interest until tomorrow. I will have many!

impudent strumpet said...

Eddie Izzard retweeted me the other day! (All other things going on in my life pale in comparison.)

Amy said...

Laura, first off, I am happy for most of the things on your list (except Tala being on the DL, though her improvement makes me happy). Glad you are getting PT on the ankle finally! It helped me SO much, and you were one of the ones who told me to get PT.

As for my list:

1. We have been on the Cape, on and off, most of the summer. It has been wonderful. I dread the end of the summer...just a few weeks away.

2. We are planning to redo the kitchen in our cottage to make it more efficient and user friendly. We have NO counters now, and preparing food on the table is not good for our backs.

3. We remain obsessed with our grandson Nate, who will be here visiting us (along with his parents, his aunt, his great-uncle, and his great-grandparents) in less than a week.

4. I have been missing far too much baseball. The upside? We are busy outside most evenings.

5. I have been preparing for a new course I will be teaching next spring on Industrial Design and IP Law. Even more interesting than I thought it would be when I suggested the course last fall.

6. I am spending MUCH less time on the computer and feeling freed in ways I did not imagine I would be. True, I am using an Ipod Touch instead to check email, etc., but nevertheless it still means less time in cyberspace. But I miss my cyberpals on JOS a lot!

allan said...

1. I have two great ideas for baseball books. I have been avoiding finalizing a pitch for them for a few months. One reason is I don't want to do the work for the pitch; I want to tell someone either of the ideas and then be given a contract and start work on it. (Anyone in publishing out there?) The other reason is I do not want the ideas to be rejected. So if I wait long enough, it will be too late for at least one of the ideas - and while I'll be forever furious with myself for not moving on it, I'll know it *could* have been done, since no one said no.

2. Whether it is sleep apnea or medication side effects or something else, I am sick of being constantly tired. I don't read much for pleasure anymore because within 30 seconds, I start yawning and yawning and my eyes water. A few times, I have actually fallen alseep. I had this problem for years (waking up more tired than I was before I went to sleep) before getting checked for apnea in 2008. I sleep with a CPAP machine, but the problem persists.

allan said...

3. Love having 2 dogs again. Can't wait until Tala is off the DL and romping with Diego again. I can tell Diego will have a ton of fun in the snow.

4. Despite the depressing tone of #1, above, it's good to have writing ideas. I am contributing to an upcoming book on the 16 World Series played during the Deadball Era. In addition to the two baseball ideas, I'd like to write about Bob Dylan's two gospel albums and the three short tours he made in 1979-80 supporting them. That seems unlikely, though.

laura k said...

Eddie Izzard retweeted me the other day!

WOW! That's amazing. What was the tweet? Would you post it here?

laura k said...

I am spending MUCH less time on the computer and feeling freed in ways I did not imagine I would be. True, I am using an Ipod Touch instead to check email, etc., but nevertheless it still means less time in cyberspace. But I miss my cyberpals on JOS a lot!

I am honoured that wmtc makes the cut!

I also find spending less time online is wonderful. For me that means hardly using Facebook at all, and not gamethreading every game. It's made a huge difference in how I feel.

For me (and perhaps others find this, too), having a mobile device that gets email helps this. (This was unexpected - had I known, I would have done it sooner.) I can take a quick peek at what's come in and answer anything that needs answering, without falling into that trap where I say, "I'll just check my email", then a few clicks later... an hour has passed and I don't know where the time went. I don't do that from my BlackBerry.

laura k said...

Amy, re ankle, did you do a whole course of physio (PT), working all the way up to balance board or trampolene, toe push-ups on a step, etc?

I did have physio initially - rotating the ankle, doing the alphabet thing - but not much past that. This is much more intensive and extensive.

The therapist told me that with ankle injuries it's very common for people to get to the point where they can walk, then stop treatment - and that's how they lose the proprioception.

laura k said...

John, thanks for that very interesting thread-starter. I'm very interested in all of it... but don't have much to add.

Where did you get Little Girl? Are the horses you work with rescues?

laura k said...

I had a moment of panic when I saw this from Amy --

I dread the end of the summer...just a few weeks away.

-- until I remembered that Amy's summer ends much earlier than mine. My school doesn't start til Sept 12 and I have nothing to prepare.

I never cared that much about summer. Through most of my adult life it's only meant being trapped indoors (air-conditioning) because I hate the heat.

Now (a) having a backyard, eating dinner outside, sitting outside to read or relax and (b) being in school, I actually care about this summer thing. I've spent most of it working very hard, so I'm really looking forward to savouring the remaining 7 weeks.

Amy said...

Yes, Laura, I am afraid MY summer has nothing to do with the real calendar! Classes start for us on August 22, orientation for new students starts the week before, and so for me, "summer" ends in less than three weeks. :(

As far as PT goes, yes, I did the balance board (not well), toe push ups, and various other exercises. I also found that yoga helped, but I know that you do not like it.

And wmtc and JOS are icons on my Ipod Touch---so I can always check those two sites, even when I am away from the laptop. :) (As well as Facebook---but yes, it is much easier to just check and move on than with the laptop, where I am right now while I have my morning tea. After this, I don't usually come back unless I have work to do or have to write a longer email.)

laura k said...

Re ankle, excellent! Good for you. I'm very happy with the difference it's making.

Re computer, that's really good! I have to spend so much time at a computer for work (all the different jobs) or school. And of course I want to blog. And I have to stay somewhat informed, although never as much as I want to. That's a ton of time right there. So I have to take any opportunity to cut back, and it's made a difference.

Amy said...

I am afraid that once I return to school, I will once again be tethered to the computer screen all day also. This is a summer experiment. If I were writing this summer, I could never have been free of the laptop, but since my prep work has been almost all reading books and articles in hard copy, it's been no problem.

Also, I do spend an hour each morning catching up on email, Facebook, baseball, blogs and the news, so I am not really free of it completely. And as you know, I still read the NYT every day, so I am not completely uninformed!

OK, my hour is up! Time to walk the dog, weed the garden, and read the newspaper!

laura k said...

An hour a day is minimal! It doesn't have to be zero. Trying to hold yourself to zero would be unsustainable anyway.

I no longer read a paper newspaper, and I can't remember the last time I watched TV news, so I either stay informed online or live in a bubble.

Enjoy your day!

johngoldfine said...

Laura--we've had a couple of rescue horses over the years, and our current retiree emerita, Epona's Eclipse, was a rescue, but generally speaking, rescues with horses are much more problematic than with dogs or cats: medical problems are vastly more expensive, extensive, hard to diagnose; behavioral problems may be way too deeply rooted to ever work around, ingore, or extirpate, not to mention seriously dangerous for owner or rider.

Horses, they say, learn nothing and forget nothing, which is a profound if paradoxical truth, and makes adopting a rescue a real challenge and gamble.

People who take on wild mustangs or Premarin mares or abused backyard horses have my admiration, but often, initial enthusiasm fades as the problems reveal themselves and a lot of rescue horses just wind up being lawn ornaments. Jean knew and worked with Eclipse for a year before we took her on.

But Little Girl (or, to call her by name--Mosa) was a purchase but a gamble because she had had extensive leg surgery, never something you want to hear about in a horse, and had lost a full year of training and maturing as a result.

Leaving the herd behind and trusting her rider to take full responsibility for her safety was not in her playbook when we bought her in May 2010, and as I said above, we've been working on that with clicker training, head games, confidence-building, gradual exposure to more demanding situations, and so on.

Last week, after one last little-girl, baby-wail of despair as the barn receded, she said, 'Ah, fuckit, there's no way out and it'll be okay...I guess.' And off we went, me and the newly-christened Big Girl. Each day after that, she got better and better until the sixth time out, I realized she was no longer listening for her buddy's whinnying a mile away but had her ears swivelled back toward me, a wonderful sign that horse and rider are in synch.

laura k said...

John, congratulations!! Wow, what an accomplishment. And as you said, a huge affirmation of everything you work for.

generally speaking, rescues with horses are much more problematic than with dogs or cats

How sad. It makes horse abuse so much more heinous.

Horses, they say, learn nothing and forget nothing

Forgetting nothing - that's really heavy.

Oh dear, must go hug my dogs right now.

johngoldfine said...

Yep, horses forget nothing, which is a good thing to remember. Dogs are much more malleable, forgiving, willing to change, but an abused horse never forgets the time, place, circumstances, and issues. With a rescue horse, you discover their triggers and see what you can negotiate, but after a point you have to see if you can live with some problems.

On the other hand, horses remember good stuff too. One of the things I was doing with Mosa last week was giving her a time-out in the middle of her stressful solo rides: I had left the tractor in the back fields and a year ago she found out that 'targeting' the tractor--bopping it with her nose--would get her a treat. So, I'd take her over to the tractor so she could forget her troubles for a minute and earn her treat.

I had to move the tractor around to the front fields on day 6 of our rides, but after a bit she indicated she was ready for a break. I let her go over to where the tractor had been, and she stopped there and looked over her shoulder, saying, 'I don't know where the flippin tractor is, but this is the spot it was, I am relaxed, and I expect a treat now if you please.' Which I was happy to provide--she was working with me, self-soothing, playing with mutual expectations, communicating. All good stuff and all based on her remembering where the tractor, or at least the regular treat, had been previous days.

Sorry to go on so, know it's a bit off topic, but have no doubt my tales of Mosa are utterly fascinating to all your wmtc readers.


impudent strumpet said...


The funny thing is I wasn't even fishing for a retweet (which I have been known to do for time to time). I was just trying to pass the info on to multiple people on my timeline who'd be interested, and I only used the @names to save characters. And I ended up getting 65 retweets via Eddie (and another 100+ via Craig Ferguson), 20ish new twitter followers, a whole bunch of blog hits, and then my blog post on machine translation ended up getting circulated around twitter too. Good thing I had something reasonably intelligent up! < /15 minutes>

laura k said...

Eddie Izzard AND Craig Ferguson both retweet you?? Extra wow!!!

That would be like Joni Mitchell commenting on wmtc. Twitter is very cool that way.

laura k said...

have no doubt my tales of Mosa are utterly fascinating to all your wmtc readers.

If they don't find your tales fascinating, they know what to do.

And if you are reading this, please see a question for you in the later same-sex-marriage-in-New-York thread.

laura k said...

John, I appreciate that I don't know much about horses and haven't experienced what you're describing, but the forgetting/remembering thing sounds an awful lot like our Buster - the abused pit-mix. It was amazing and heartbreaking.

Amy said...

John, I for one know almost nothing about horses, but am fascinated by your experiences with this horse.

impudent strumpet said...

have no doubt my tales of Mosa are utterly fascinating to all your wmtc readers.

Stories about animals are always interesting - especially stories that give us a glimpse into what they're thinking!